I’m sure there is someone who loves this piece.

I’m sure there is someone who isn’t bothered by gendered language.

I’m sure there is someone who thinks four verses makes a chant.

I am not that someone.

Children of the Earth,
we have come to
sing to each other,
Sister to Brother,
songs of our Mother Earth.

Children of the Earth,
Autumn soon will
breathe her last breath and
quick will her death bear
witness to Winter’s Birth.

Children of the Earth,
can you feel the
air getting cold as
darkness takes hold and
sleep covers Mother Earth?

Children of the Earth,
we have come
to sit in the darkness,
breathe in the silence,
think of our Mother Earth.

Now don’t get me wrong; it’s not the pagan flavor that bothers me one bit. I often talk about the spiritual journey 1992-2004 as my “high pagan days.” I know that my religious experiences in that time – from the solitary to the communal – inform much of who I am today; it was in those days that I learned the ‘year and a day’ of spiritual study and practice that sparked Hymn by Hymn. I learned a great deal about shared ritual, the power of chant, the richness of the elements.

But I also learned that by and large, pagan chants leave me wanting. I’m not sure why, but there are only one or two that I think of with affection or even remember. And this one is not one of them.

I mean, it’s not a bad song. Phillip Palmer offers something interesting in the middle of his song, but it ends with a thud, and no amount of beautiful arranging by Jeannie Gagné can fix a thud like that.

But let’s not kid ourselves: this is not a chant. A chant is a short musical passage that is repeated. This is a song, with four verses. Yet because of the misleading title, countless winter solstice service coordinators – myself included – tried to figure out of how to use this as a chant, and it just doesn’t play well that way.

Anyway. I’m feeling curmudgeonly about this one. To the person who loves it, sorry.

“I have no response to that.”

— Angelica, Joe Versus the Volcano

Now the day is over, night is drawing nigh,
shadows of the evening steal across the sky.

Now the leafless landscape settles in repose,
waiting for the quiet of the winter snows.

Now as twilight gathers let us pause and hear
all the slowing pulsebeats of the waning year.

May the season’s rhythms, slow and strong and deep,
soothe the mind and spirit, lulling us to sleep.

Sleep until the rising of another spring
keeps the ancient promise fall and winter bring.

Huh. So…

I suppose it’s right for the season, but my only real thought is it feels like something to be sung in welcome for a Yuletide vespers.

And I sit here really having not much more to say today. I didn’t like or hate it, I didn’t find it moving or annoying, the tune just is. I really feel like one of Meg Ryan’s characters (she plays three) in Joe Versus the Volcano (which you should watch). Truly, I have no response to this hymn.